American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

​Marathon Tips that Beat the Competition

Marathon runnersAre you planning on running your first half or full marathon this year? If you are, you’re not alone. Running has become an increasingly popular form of exercise because of the accessibility and cost of the sport. While running is great exercise, half and full marathons can take a toll on your body. Antoinette M. Cheney, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician from Lone Tree, Colorado, has 10 tips for first-time marathoners to ensure that your first marathon won’t have to be your last.

  1. Know what you’re getting yourself into. “Without proper training and technique, long-distance running has the potential to cause serious injury, particularly to your hips, knees, ankles, and feet,” explains Dr. Cheney. To avoid injuries, be sure to commit to taking the proper time to train.

  2. Check with your physician before starting to train. “Certain medications or previous health conditions can affect your cardiovascular, muscular, and immune systems no matter your age, so it is important for people of all ages to check with their physicians before committing to a race; not just the elderly,” says Dr. Cheney.

  3. Eat like an athlete. When making the decision to participate in a marathon, you need to feed your body with the nutrients that it needs, using food as fuel. “A healthy diet, adequate hydration, and good rest are crucial to get the most out of your training,” says Dr. Cheney.

  4. Research the running experts. “Seek out advice and training tips from experts in books, magazines, blogs, etc.,” says Dr. Cheney, “But, make sure these sources are reliable, especially when using the internet,” she adds.

  5. Cross-train. Changing up what types of workouts you do can be helpful. “Some people can become bored or frustrated with long training runs,” says Dr. Cheney. Pilates, yoga, and strength training are examples of effective cross-training exercises that may help keep you motivated and interested in the training process. 

  6. Listen to your body. Don’t get discouraged if you become injured. Take a few days off or cross train to avoid further injury or damage to your body. “Make sure to see your physician if pain does not decrease after a few days of ice and rest,” adds Dr. Cheney.

  7. Be safe. If you are running alone, Dr. Cheney recommends avoiding areas that are dimly lit or deserted, and carrying a cell phone and identification with you. “If you run at night, wear bright colors, reflective wear, or lighting that makes you visible to cars,” she adds.

  8. Dress for the conditions. Appropriate dress will help make your run a success. Check the weather forecast and dress for the elements. Dr. Cheney also recommends wearing sunscreen, especially when running during the late morning or mid-afternoon, when the sun is the most harmful.

  9. Hydrate throughout the day. Don’t just drink water right before or during a run. “By drinking water throughout the day, a runner can stay properly hydrated before even lacing up his or her shoes,” says Dr. Cheney.

  10. Don’t try a new energy gel, nutrition or hydration product for the first time on race day. Give your body time to adjust to it during training.

“A lot of time, thought, energy, and strength go into training for a marathon,” says Dr. Cheney. “Remember that training is individualized and that what works for one runner might not for another. Doing what works best for you and following these tips will help make the most of your race preparation and ensure that your first marathon is a complete success!”

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help prevent injury and encourage your body’s natural tendency toward self-healing.


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